Louisville vs. Miami in Orlando.  It’s almost poetic.  These two programs could not be more connected.  From Howard Schnellenberger as the “Godfather” of both programs, the Miami natives on Louisville’s roster (23), to Clint Hurtt and the recent meetings of the rise and fall of both programs.  This game is FULL of headlines and angles.

The series, however, only recently became interesting.  In 11 meetings the Hurricanes hold a 1-9-1 advantage over the Cards.  Dating back to 1933, Louisville wasn’t able to defeat the Canes until the most recent match-up in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 2006.  The tie occurred in 1950.  But the series really kicked off in earnest with two memorable (one maybe not so much for Miami) games in 2004 & 2006.


I attended the 2004 match-up in the Miami Orange Bowl.  Thursday Night in Little Havana with ESPN in the house with today’s College Football Gameday crew.  It was a different time for Louisville.  If the Cards lacked national respect this year, in 2004 that thirst for respect was at a fever pitch.  The Cards were in Conference USA and started the 2004 season unranked off of a 9-4 season that returned essentially an entire team.  By the time Louisville & Miami faced off on October 14, 2004 Louisville was #17, Miami was 3-0.  Both undefeated.

Miami was two years removed from losing to Ohio State due to  a (still) controversial pass interference call, and three years removed from being the National Champions of the 2001 season.  In the four seasons spanning 2000-2003 Miami went to 4 BCS games, won a national title, and had a 46-4 record.   Miami had respect.

Being a student at the time I can tell you that the Louisville Football team had the confidence to beat Miami.  There was a concern about Miami’s defense, who had given up just two TDs all season and this was a mid-October game.  There was concern about punting Devin Hester who was still emerging as a talent.  And there was a concern about Frank Gore.

Watch the game yourself if you like.  But when the Greg Olsen scored the game’s opening TD, the Orange Bowl had a sound that I’d never heard before.  It was an excited, higher-pitched, piercing sound.  I’ve been to countless sports venues, I’ve never heard a sound like that before or since.   The band played the “Empire Theme Music” throughout the game, the Miami band was mic’d up.  The “U” put the best looking Miami cheerleaders next to the Louisville bench.  This was a concerted effort.  It was a machine.

At halftime, the crowd was shocked….and we really were too, that Louisville was leading 24-7.  We listened to the Miami radio call inside the stadium and I’ll never forget when Louisville answered Miami’s Touchdown to open the 2nd half when Louisville hit Tiger Jones on a fade route to go up 31-14 with 6:39 to go in the 3rd Quarter.  I’ll never forget the Miami color commentator saying, “Louisville is for real!”

At that moment, the sidelines became full.  Disinterested media who may have had an ‘ho-hum’ attitude pre-game suddenly were watching intently.  I remember vividly watching Trev Alberts (formerly of ESPN) twirling something on the sideline over and over again and pacing.  The Miami fans pre-game were awesome and neighborly.  We were welcomed with food, drink,  and information about Miami’s Orange Bowl and what her future might hold and a healthy discussion of Louisville vs. Miami football.  But now, with a 31-14 lead the respect for us…..even as fans in the stands……changed.

We all know the rest.  Stefan LeFors suffered a concussion at some point in the 3rd quarter and didn’t appear to be himself after that Tiger Jones TD.  When LeFors fumbled a snap, he was evaluated on the sideline and the concussion was diagnosed.  Louisville would be with Freshman Brian Brohm the rest of the way, and Miami would convert LeFors’ fumble into a FG.  Then Brent Moody (who Louisville fans never heard from after this game) decided to scrap the gameplan of sideline punting and opted in rouge fashion to punt to Devin Hester in the middle of the field.   The lead was gone.

Brian Brohm then did something a true freshman QB shouldn’t be able to do against the 2004 Miami Defense, he led a 9-play, 80 yard, 4th quarter TD drive to take a 38-34 lead with 4:17 to play.  The Mike Tirico, Kirk Herbstreit, and Lee Corso overflowed with praise at the quality of the football game.  Louisville’s best chance to win, came with 3:24 to play and is now known as the “Kerry Rhodes” drop.  The Brock Berlin ball was overthrown and hit Kerry directly in the chest and fell to the ground.  The Canes then converted a 4th & 4 from the 8-yard line to Darnell Jenkins the play was right on the line and Brandon Johnson was just barely beaten. Miami would go on to score a Frank Gore TD to regain the lead 41-38 with 0:49 remaining.

Louisville remained at #17 in the poll after losing to Miami.


This time the landscape was much different.  Louisville came into the season with HIGH expectations and this game was at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on one of the most picturesque days for football you can imagine.  #12 Louisville vs. #15 Miami.  Miami remembered 2004, and so did Louisville.  Louisville fans knew that 3-point loss on the road cost the Cards a chance at a BCS bowl and an undefeated season.  Then Miami jumped on the bird.  Things got personal and Louisville dominated the afternoon.  Urrutia stiff arm will always be a thing in Louisville after this game.

C-A-N-E-S  vs.  C-A-R-D-S.  

The fan chants of these two schools are strikingly similar.  Same number of letters, and 3 of 5 are in the same order.  Being that Howard Schnellenberger comes from both places the chants are very similar.    Miami begins their chant with the Ibis holding the ‘Aaaahhhhhhhh’ until he feels like it, and the C-A-N-E-S is really fast followed by CANES! in the same tempo.

Louisville’s is similar except that the ‘Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh’ follows a clap that increases in pace and the ‘AAAhhhhh’ portion is always a uniform duration.  The C-A-R-D-S is held at each letter for emphasis and reverberation on each letter and there is a similar pause between the end of the spelling and the ending “CARDS”.

Neither is right.  Neither is wrong.   You’re a bird, I’m a bird.

Louisville v. Miami CrunchZone Podcast

Louisville vs. Miami Stat Comparision

Louisville Miami (FL)
Scoring Offense (ppg) 35.1 (29th) 35.9 (24th)
Total Offense (ypg) 453.1 (34th) 446.8 (39th)
Passing Offense (ypg) 302.9 (18th) 274.3 (29th)
Rushing Offense (ypg) 150.17 (81st) 172.5 (64th)
Scoring Defense (ppg) 12.4 (3rd) 26.0 (58th)
Total Defense (ypg) 257.9 (2nd) 415.8 (77th)
Passing Defense (ypg) 171.7 (8th) 233.4 (72nd)
Rushing Defense (ypg) 86.25 (2nd) 182.33 (82nd)
Punt Returns (ypr) 7.63 (70th) 11.30 (31st)
Kickoff Returns (ypr) 23.19 (29th) 25.14 (7th)
Opponent Punt Returns (ypr) 1.15 (2nd) 12.25 (109th)
Opponent Kickoff Returns (ypr) 22.32 (89th) 20.00 (38th)
Punting (ypp) 40.13 (78th) 46.33 (4th)
Field Goal % 81.0% (40th) 76.5% (51st)
Opponent Field Goal % 76.9 (81st) 82.4% (97th)
First Downs (per game) 23.0 (38th) 19.4 (87th)
Opponent First Downs (per game) 14.1 (1st) 21.6 (81st)
Penalties (ypg) 63.1 (111th) 46.8 (63rd)
Turnover Margin (season) +16 (3rd) +6 (29th)
Time of Possession 33:25.75 (6th) 26:21.17 (120th)
Sacks (per game) 3.25 (1st) 2.33 (38th)
Sacks Allowed (per game) 2.08 (69th) 1.08 (14th)
Tackles for Loss (per game) 7.83 (9th) 4.92 (110th)
Tackles for Loss Allowed (per game) 5.83 (56th) 4.75 (25th)
Interceptions (season) 16 (19th) 18 (9th)
Passes Defended (per game) 4.75 (47th) 4.75 (47th)
Fumbles Recovered (season) 10 (38th) 9 (51st)
Fumbles Forced (season) 15 (11th) 14 (16th)
Fumbles Lost (season) 6 (15th) 7 (29th)
Kicks/Punts Blocked (season) 2 (42nd) 3 (19th)
3rd Down Conversions (%) 55.90% (2nd) 37.58% (87th)
Opponent 3rd Down Conversions (%) 28.57% (2nd) 41.30% (81st)
4th Down Conversions (%) 20% (125th) 43.75% (86th)
Opponent 4th Down Conversions (%) 55.00% (77th) 65% (108th)
Red Zone Conversions (%) 88.68% (23rd) 82.69% (60th)
Opponent Red Zone Conversions (%) 71.43% (8th) 82.22% (51st)
RedZone TD Conversions (%) 58.49% (81st) 61.54 (68th)
Opponent Red Zone TD Conversions (%) 48.57% (10th) 55.56% (32nd)
Kickoffs (ypk) 59.80 (94th) 63.20 (15th)
Plays 818 (90th) 765 (117th)
Yards Per Play 6.65 (17th) 7.01 (9th)

Louisville’s Offense vs. Miami’s Defense

Louisville’s Offense is largely misunderstood by the Cardinal fanbase.  Most average football fans look at Louisville’s offense and see Teddy Bridgewater, DeVante Parker, Damian Copeland, Eli Rogers, Gerald Christian, Senorise Perry, Dominique Brown, and the rest of the complement of weaponry that the Cards at its disposal and think:  “This should be a Top 5 offensive unit”.

Louisville finished the regular season 29th in Scoring Offense and 34th in Total Offense, but the truth of Louisville’s offense really lies in this stat:  Louisville was 16th in Yards Per Play and 95th in # of plays run during the season.  Louisville sat on the ball became the 6th best Time of Possession team in College Football, 3rd best turnover margin team in the land, and the 2nd Best Defense in the nation.  It’s called Boa Constrictor Football.  When an offense can control the clock and keep its defense fresh, a lot of games are going to be won.

Miami’s Defense, if we are honest, really struggled getting off the field in 2013.  But the thing that really bailed out the Hurricanes quite a bit was the timely turnover.  Miami was +6 in Turnover Margin on the season, but they actually GAINED 27 turnovers on the season (Louisville gained 26 for comparison) which is an extremely good number of turnovers forced.  Still the Canes gave up quite a few more yards than would be desired, and was the #81 ranked 3rd Down Defense in the country.

Contrast Miami’s 3rd Down Defense, to Louisville’s 3rd Down offense:  Miami gave up 41.30% of 3rd Downs (81st) and Louisville converted 55.90% of 3rd Downs.  That is a pretty big advantage for the Cardinals in this match-up.

Total Defense Louisville Gained vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Ohio 392.3 615 222.7 156.77%
Kentucky 427.2 492 64.8 115.17%
FIU 429.7 464 34.3 107.98%
Temple 474.3 525 50.7 110.69%
Rutgers 406 461 55 113.55%
UCF 346.3 445 98.7 128.50%
USF 350.8 485 100.4 126.11%
Connecticut 384.6 369 -15.6 95.94%
Houston 420 332 -88 79.05%
Memphis 370.7 342 -28.7 92.26%
Cincinnati 313.2 432 118.8 137.93%

Louisville was outstanding in the first 8 games of the season offensively.  The Cards bested their opponents yards allowed per game average in all 8 of those contests before hitting a lull for a 3 game stretch of the UCONN, Houston, and Memphis games.  But the Cards got back on track against Cincinnati.

Total Offense Miami Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Florida Atlantic 380.4 250 -130.4 65.72%
Florida 316.7 413 96.3 130.41%
South Florida 256.4 288 31.6 112.32%
Georgia Tech 440.7 401 -39.7 90.99%
North Carolina 432.4 500 67.6 115.63%
Wake Forest 292 361 69 123.63%
Florida State 529.4 517 -12.4 97.66%
Virginia Tech 359.1 549 189.9 152.88%
Duke 408.1 543 134.9 133.06%
Virginia 368.4 483 114.6 131.11%
PITT 351.9 501 149.1 142.37%

Miami was inconsistent, but 8 of 12 opponents actually put up more yardage than average against the Canes during the 2013 season.  Virginia Tech had the largest disparity and they did it on the ground.

QBs v. Miami Result Comp/Att, Yards, TD/INT Avg Comp/Att/Yards/TD/INT
2 QBs-Florida Atlantic W 16/32, 117, 0/0 16.3/29.4, 197.9, 1/0.67
Jeff Driskel-Florida W 23/33, 291, 1/ 2 19.5/27.5, 222, n/a
Steven Bench-USF W 13/27, 127, 1/1 Not applicable
3 QBs-Georgia Tech W 6/19, 66, 0/1 7.25/15.5, 129, 0.9/0.75
2 QBs-UNC W 32/43, 395, 2/2 22/35, 286.25, 2.25/0.9
Tanner Price-Wake Forest W 24/45, 302, 2/1 17.2/31.5, 186.1, 1.1/0.76
Jameis Winston (Florida State) L 21/29, 325, 1/ 2 18.2/26.8, 293.8, 2.9/0.76
Logan Thomas-VT L 25/31, 366, 2/0 18.7-32.6, 238.4, 1.3/1.1
2 QBs-Duke L 16/25, 185, 0/0 22.3/35.2, 253.92, 1.9/1.4
David Watford-Virginia W 10/25, 106, 1/3 20.3/35.6, 183.5,
Tom Savage-Pitt W 24/43, 281, 2/1 19.2/31.3, 236.2, 1.75/0.75
Teddy Bridgewater ?  ?  22.3/31.8, 293.58, 2.3/0.3

Teddy Bridgewater should be sitting pretty against the Miami defense, but he will be tested.  Particularly in the turnover department.  Miami had 18 INTs during 2013 good for 9th in the nation.

Opponents Rushing vs. Miami Result Rushing Yards Rushing Offense (Rank)
Florida Atlantic W 133 182.50 (49th)
Florida W 122 145.75 (87th)
USF W 99 89.58 (119th)
Georgia Tech W 335 311.67 (5th)
UNC W 105 146.17 (86th)
Wake Forest W 59 95.42 (117th)
Florida St L 192 207.38 (26th)
VT L 183 117.83 (111th)
Duke L 358 173.69 (61st)
Virginia W 243 156.58 (76th)
Pitt W 220 114.92 (113th)
Louisville ?  150.17 (81st)

Late in the season, Miami’s defense really started getting beat up and as a result began giving up A LOT of yards rushing.  I’d expect that some time off would help shore up some of that, along with Louisville’s rushing attack being just 81st in the nation.

Outside Linebacker Denzel Perryman leads the way for Miami’s Defense with 104 tackles, 5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.  Perryman is EVERYWHERE for the Canes are really sets the tone for the defense.  Perryman was the only defender from Miamito make an appearance on an ALL-ACC team in 2013, but CB Tracy Howard and Deon Bush were able to make honorable mention.  Howard had 4 INTs in 2013.

Defensive Ends Shayon Green & Anthony Chickillo are effective at getting into the backfield and must be respected with their size and speed.  The first unit really isn’t the issue…..it’s the depth right now for Miami upfront.  Justin Renfrom and Olsen Pierre do a decent job of holding the point of attack, but opponents caught them on screens a lot in 2013.

Miami is a dangerous defense and gambles quite a bit.  They really do look to take the ball away and try to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.  The aggression is a big weakness.  Miami has given up a lot of long drives and big plays in 2013.

Louisville on the other hand really has done a nice job of NOT turning the ball over and sustaining long drives.  Obviously Teddy Bridgewater is a big reason for that and the Cards’ 3rd Down production is outstanding.  To me, Miami’s Defense could get to Teddy and into the backfield on running plays enough to disrupt a handful of drives on Saturday, but in the end I really think that unless something happens out of the ordinary this is a big advantage area for the Cards.

Miami’s Offense vs. Louisville’s Defense 

This is an excellent match-up.  Miami’s offense has weapon after weapon.  Duke Johnson really took this group to a different level before his ankle injury against Florida State, and Herb Waters is not expected to be in the lineup.  But the Canes should get big play threat Phillip Dorsett back for Saturday.  Miami’s strength is their menagerie of skill players, a VERY GOOD offensive line, and a capable quarterback to spread the ball around.

For all the talk of Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville’s offense, it’s the defense that has been the star for the Cards in 2013.  Down the middle the Cards have Brandon Dunn (DT), Preston Brown (MLB), and Calvin Pryor (S) that really are some of the best in college football at their position.  But it expands outside to All-American Marcus Smith, Sack Master Lorenzo Mauldin, 4-year All Conference Hakeem Smith and without naming every stud on defense you get the idea.  Louisville has it all defensively, except for maybe depth at the Nose Guard position.

 Miami vs. Total Offense Miami Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Florida Atlantic 380.4 250 -130.4 65.72%
Florida 316.7 413 96.3 130.41%
South Florida 256.4 288 31.6 112.32%
Georgia Tech 440.7 401 -39.7 90.99%
North Carolina 432.4 500 67.6 115.63%
Wake Forest 292 361 69 123.63%
Florida State 529.4 517 -12.4 97.66%
Virginia Tech 359.1 549 189.9 152.88%
Duke 408.1 543 134.9 133.06%
Virginia 368.4 483 114.6 131.11%
PITT 351.9 501 149.1 142.37%

Miami outpaced nearly every team’s yards allowed in 2013.  Whenever the Canes didn’t beat the average yards allowed they were still close to the mark.  Miami has WEAPONS, particularly at tight end and receiver.

 Louisville vs. Total Offense Louisville Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Ohio 374.8 273 -101.8 72.84%
Kentucky 341.3 376 34.7 110.17%
FIU 222.3 30 -192.3 13.50%
Temple 399 255 -144 63.91%
Rutgers 375.9 240 -135.9 63.85%
UCF 432 446 14 103.24%
USF 256.4 133 -123.4 51.87%
Connecticut 318.3 237 -81.3 74.46%
Houston 422.5 195 -227.5 46.15%
Memphis 311.5 279 -32.5 89.57%
Cincinnati 482.3 428 -54.3 88.74%

Louisville’s defense, SHUTDOWN all but two offenses on the season significantly less than their season averages.  Kentucky had a lot of yards late to push their total, and we all saw the UCF game.

Stephen Morris vs. Result Comp/Att, Yards, TD/INT Passing Defense (Rank)
Florida Atlantic W 15/27, 160, 1/1 161.1 (2nd)
Florida W 12/25, 162, 2/1 171.8 (9th)
USF W 11/16, 222, 2/0 211.0 (26th)
Georgia Tech W 17/22, 324, 3/2 243.5 (87th)
UNC W 19/25, 322, 0/4 224.0 (52nd)
Wake Forest W 17/28, 191, 1/0 223.0 (51st)
Florida St L 16/28, 192, 2/2 152.0 (1st)
VT L 16/29, 324, 2/0 165.8 (3rd)
Duke L 30/49, 379, 2/1 233.2 (71st)
Virginia W 13/26, 214, 2/1 232.9 (69th)
Pitt W 17/28, 296, 3/0 213.5 (29th)
Louisville ? ? 171.7 (8th)

Stephen Morris really struggled turning the ball over early in the season but really turned things around in the final 6 games of the year.  The key for Morris is to stay out of pressure situations and let him operate without a lot of pressure.  That’s when Morris gets into trouble, when he forces things.  Plus some of the INTs were off his WRs’ hands and I have always said that should be a separate stat…not an INT.

Miami Rushing Attack vs. Result Rushing Yards Rushing Defense (Rank)
Florida Atlantic W 303 167.67 (68th)
Florida W 50 142.42 (34th)
USF W 165 139.75 (29th)
Georgia Tech W 227 107.00 (9th)
UNC W 234 183.58 (83rd)
Wake Forest W 200 143.17 (37th)
Florida St L 83 116.54 (14th)
VT L 28 103.75 (8th)
Duke L 186 175.31 (75th)
Virginia W 90 170.67 (74th)
Pitt W 180 160.58 (60th)
Louisville ? 86.25 (2nd)

Miami’s ability to run the football has significantly dropped off since Duke Johnson’s injury.  The Canes effectively now only use one Running Back, Dallas Crawford but Gus Edwards and Eduardo Clements will get a handful of carries each game.  Not having Duke has really derailed a lot of rushing opportunities for the Canes offense and Crawford must play A LOT of snaps as a result.

This offense/defense match-up really will come down to Miami’s Receivers and Stephen Morris being able to get them the ball.  It isn’t expected that Louisville will be able to get many sacks as Miami really hasn’t allowed many this season at all, but getting pressure and forcing the ball out of Morris’ hand will be key.

MIAMI IS ALL ABOUT THE BIG PLAY.  The Canes will go deep often and they will also set up the screen on either side.  Allen Hurns is DANGEROUS.  Stacy Coley is going to be a superstar.  Tight End Clive Walford is likely to enter the NFL Draft early, and Phillip Dorsett is back from an injury and just as dangerous to catch one of the safety as anyone.  Without a sustainable, large carry format in the running game, Miami will be looking for the big play.  It isn’t my opinion that Stephen Morris is the kind of guy who can sustain several 8+ play drives against this Louisville defense, but Morris has the weapons to go Long and hit the quick strike.  That should be Louisville’s focus on defense…..don’t give up the big play and make Stephen Morris beat you.  I think Louisville will play slightly conservatively in the secondary but will certainly bring pressure.

If Louisville starts getting to the QB, watch out.  This game could get ugly.  But I don’t see that happening and I do think Miami hits a fair share of big gainers.  I don’t foresee the Hurricanes having a lot of success running the football.  Louisville’s rushing defense has been outstanding outside of about 15 snaps on the season and it still ranks 2nd in the country. Getting stops is the key to this game for the Cards.

My Prediction

This is a dangerous game for the Cards.  The emotion should be high and I think it will be a very physical ballgame.  For me when trying to decide how this game will play out I really think it all comes down to the fact that I think Louisville’s defense will likely get more stops than Miami’s.

Both offenses are fantastic.  I really think a lot of Miami’s skill players and offensive line and while I’m not a huge fan of Stephen Morris he certainly has better protection than Teddy Bridgewater.  Still Teddy’s poise is a big plus when comparing the two.

Miami has gotten turnovers all season, Louisville has too.  Miami gives the ball up A LOT (21 lost on the season) and Louisville doesn’t (10 lost on season, 2nd in nation).  I think Miami’s defense is good enough to get some stops, but Louisville’s advantage on 3rd Down on both sides of the field is really too big to ignore statistically.

In the end I think the Cards win 34-26. 

Miami Hype Video for 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl

Miami Opponent Game Capsules:

Miami vs. Florida Atlantic

The “U” opened up against a local C-USA opponent in Florida Atlantic and beat the Owls comfortably 34-6.  FAU finished 85th in offense in College Football averaging an 380.4 yards per game.  Miami allowed just 250 in the opener. The Owls also finished with the 11th best defense in the nation (328.8 ypg statistically) despite the Hurricanes posting 503 yards.

Clearly the talent difference between Miami and Florida Atlantic is pretty significant, but fundamentally FAU was a solid defensive team all season.  Much of the damage in this game was due to Running Back Duke Johnson (who was injured and lost for the season vs. FSU with an ankle injury).  Miami had 303 yards on the ground in this game and didn’t allow much defensively in this game.

Great start for the Hurricanes.

Miami vs. Florida

This game appeared to be a defensive struggle based on the 21-16 score, but the truth is that the Miami Defense actually gave up a lot of yards to Florida and Miami was the team that struggled to move the ball.  The key difference in this game was the “U” making plays when it mattered.

1st Team ALL-ACC Denzel Perryman forced a HUGE fumble in the game’s 1st five minutes that Stephen Morris was able to turn into points 3 minutes later to Herb Waters in the endzone.  Florida blocked a Miami punt that led to an easy score for the Gators and a failed conversion attempt left the game 7-6 in the 1st quarter.

On the next possession, Miami gained 25% of their yardage on a single play when Stephen Morris hit Phillip Dorsett for 52-yards for a TD to take a 14-6 lead.  Florida moved the ball extremely well in the game racking up 413 yards, but the Hurricanes forced FIVE turnovers against the Gators.  The 2nd of which came on the ensuing drive with Florida in the redzone when Jeff Driskel threw an INT to Rayshawn Jenkins.  Later Will Muschamp would gamble in the 2nd quarter (down 14-6) on 4th & 1 and would fail to convert another red zone possession into points.   Florida finished the 1st half of football with yet another failed REDZONE trip when Miami’s Shayon Green forced a fumble from Trey Burton.  MIAMI MADE PLAYS IN TOUGH SITUATIONS.  Florida lacked decision-making and execution, but the Hurricanes took advantage.  And it is a good thing…………..

Stephen Morris finished the game 12 of 25 for 162 yards 2 TDs, and an INT.  Both TDs came in the 1st quarter and in fact, MORRIS DIDN’T COMPLETE FROM 3:43 in the 1st QUARTER UNTIL 4:20 REMAINING IN THE 3rd QUARTER.  During that time Miami also did not convert a first down.  That is a SERIOUS drought.

During that time Florida was finally able to score on a redzone trip via a field goal on a drive that began at mid-field, but not much else went right for the Gators until after Miami took a 21-9 lead.  Leading up to Miami’s final score the Gators & Hurricanes traded interceptions (Florida’s was of course in the Red Zone), and then the Gator’s fatal mistake was a Jeff Driskel fumble inside their own 10 that was an EASY Duke Johnson TD.

What Do We Take Away?

I don’t want to take anything away from Miami, because they made plays when they had to……but Florida choked this game away.  Miami’s offense wasn’t good enough to win this game, and Miami’s defense gave up a lot of room. Still the Canes found a way to win.  There is something to be said about teams that can make the big turnover and can make a big play like Morris to Dorsett.

Florida’s Defense finished #10 in the nation (allowed 57 more yards per game than Louisville) and the Gators still lost.  Miami gained just 212 yards, but the Gators only gained 1 turnover and allowed the big 52-yard reception.  Miami was just 1-11 on 3rd down and had the ball for only 21:40 of the game’s 60 minutes.  On paper Florida did everything but win the game….but the scoreboard is where it matters.

Miami vs. Savannah State

Miami @ South Florida

Here is a common opponent for the Cards & Canes to compare, Louisville beat USF 34-3 and allowed the Bulls just 133 yards while amassing 485 of their own.  Miami took out the Bulls 49-21 and talled 540 yards while allowing 288.  The comparison is somewhat skewed by the fact that USF QB Steven Bench was able to finish the game against the Canes, but had to leave early against the Cards.  Also Miami allowed a 96-yard TD drive on the final possession of the game (3:06 remaining leading 49-14).

In the actual game.  Stephen Morris had a short day due to a lingering ankle injury suffered against FCS opponent Savannah State.  Morris left the game early in the 2nd quarter but still was 11 of 16 for 222 yards and 2 TD (0 INTs).  Morris overthrew a wide open Herb Waters on his final play and aggravated his ankle.  But the damage was already done as the Canes led 21-7 at the time of his departure.

Miami scored on its opening possession thanks to a balanced effort, and USF quickly matched that score on the shoulders of Marcus Shaw who had 58 rushing yards on the possession and the TD.  The Canes though went right back with the deep ball again from Morris to Dorsett for 55 yards that set up a Herb Waters TD from Morris.  Morris then scored on the Canes’ 3rd possession, this time to Freshman Stacy Coley on a 34-yard strike.

As breakouts go, this was Stacy Coley’s who is an ACC-All Freshman.  Coley finished the afternoon with 4 catches for 96 yards and 2 TDs.

After scoring on the game’s first 3 possessions Miami finally failed to score when Duke Johnson fumbled in the redzone at the 1 yard line, but the Canes would go on to score anyway when forcing a fumble of their own while sacking Steven Bench.  Miami would go on to take a 49-7 lead and they were having their way with the Bulls well into the 4th quarter.   USF finally scored again on a PICK SIX off of 3rd string QB Gray Crow….The of course Miami allowed 96 yards in garbage time.

What Do We Take Away?

Louisville & USF took care of the Bulls like they were supposed to.  I throw out the Pick Six Miami allowed along with the 96-yard final possession, and I find a similar performance in both UofL & UM.  The key difference for me is the Hurricanes allowing USF to score on their opening possession. USF only scored against the Cards after two gift-wrapped personal foul penalties started a Bull possession in field goal range without gaining a yard.

Miami vs. Georgia Tech

I doubt the coaching staff even looked that the defensive tape of Miami in this game.  Georgia Tech’s offense is a headache in preparation, but also for coaches hoping to learn about their opponent’s defense.  If Louisville suddenly wants to run triple option with Teddy Bridgewater (and eventually Dominique Brown) the Cards might be able to mimic some of Georgia Tech’s 335 yards rushing success against the Canes.   Miami really did struggle setting the edge in this game especially early but outside of that Louisville isn’t going to learn much on how to attack Miami from this game.

Georgia Tech had Miami down 17-7, but both teams scored on their opening drive.  GT plodded its way to the endzone, while Miami scored on its 2nd play from scrimmage (1st play big rush by Duke Johnson) and TD again big TD to Phillip Dorsett for 40 yards.  GT kept scoring, and Miami kept turning it over.  Duke Johnson fumbled after a big gain and GT turned that into a TD to take the 17-7 advantage, then Stephen Morris threw an INT.

The Canes stopped the bleeding with a turnover just outside the RedZone for the Yellow Jackets and Miami took the ball and finally was able to retain possession on their way to a touchdown that would bring the game to 17-14.  Just before halftime, the big lead was tied at 17-17 after Stephen Morris hit some big gainers to Allen Hurns and Stacy Coley to set up a field goal.

In the 2nd half, Morris threw another INT this time in the redzone, but the Canes would regain possession and would strike on a 69-yard TD pass from Morris to Allen Hurns.  Hurns shed a tackler after the catch and followed his blockers all the way into the endzone.  Georgia Tech answered and TIED the game after Dorsett fumbled a punt return which allowed GT to once again plod their way into the endzone.  Miami then RODE Duke Johnson for 5 consecutive carries before striking with Morris to Stacy Coley for 41-yards to put the Canes inside the 3 and set up a TD.

The Canes broke open the game in the 4th quarter with an 8 point lead and 5:15 remaining with an Interception  by Rayshawn Jenkins followed by Duke Johnson getting 5 consecutive carries AGAIN that setup a TD Rush for Dallas Crawford to take a 38-23 lead. Miami would tack on another TD thanks to the hapless passing game of the Yellow Jackets when Justin Thomas had a Pick Six (45-23), Georgia Tech would score a meaningless TD in the game’s final seconds for the final score 45-30.

What Do We Take Away

Miami struggled early on with an almost extinct style of football.  It took them a while to figure it out and shot themselves in the foot with turnovers,  but again this Miami team thrives on making the big play.  HUGE gains made this win possible for Miami along with timely turnovers.   The Hurricanes were dominated in time of possession again, but the receiving corps of Coley, Dorsett, and Hurns coupled with Duke Johnson was just way too potent.

Miami amassed 551 yards (324 through the air), but had 4 turnovers and forced 3.

The big thing for me in this game is just how much the play action really paid off for the Hurricanes when they went vertical in the passing game.

It’s really hard to take anything away defensively because of Georgia Tech’s style, but mainly I did think it was somewhat surprising to see them fail to set the edge so often.

Miami @ North Carolina

At the time, Miami was #10 in the nation and 5-0 coming into this game and North Carolina was 1-4.  Not exactly the setting for high drama on a Thursday night.  But it sure ended that way in a 27-23 thriller.  Looking back at UNC’s year now it’s easy to see that the Tar Heels schedule was front loaded as North Carolina won 5 in a row following the Miami game and finished 6-6.  UNC gets Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl.

Things got started when Stephen Morris overthrew Herb Waters on the opening possession and was intercepted by Dominique Green.  UNC platooned QBs Bryn Renner & Marquise Williams all night, but Williams gave the ball right back when the Tar Heels had moved into scoring position with an interception by UM’s Tracy Howard.   Duke Johnson then proceeded to break off a HUGE 59-yard rush, but the Canes failed to punch it in for a Touchdown despite having 6 plays to go 12 yards and settled for a FG.

North Carolina got on the board first with a nifty roll out play-action pass from Williams to Eric Ebron and used an Ebron broken tackle to take it the 71-yard distance.  Stephen Morris then connected with Phillip Dorsett for 68-yards on a pass to set up a field goal to make the score 7-6.  During Miami’s next possession Dorsett was lost for the rest of the regular season with a torn MCL on a reverse.  Dorsett is a BIG play receiver for the Canes and Al Golden and Dorsett both expect for the standout WR to be available in the Russell Athletic Bowl.  But Dorsett was lost against the Tar Heels.  Also in the 1st Quarter the Canes lost Duke Johnson to a concussion after taking a knee to the helmet while pass blocking.  Miami was going to have to win the game without two of their top playmakers.

UNC put together a decent drive but WR Artie Burns BLOCKED the 47-yard attempt and Ladarius Gunter returned it 67 yards for a TD to take a 13-7 lead.  North Carolina then answered immediately after another big play to Eric Ebron to set up a Quinshad Davis TD to regain the lead 14-13 North Carolina.

Stephen Morris exacerbated the situation with an INT to Tre Boston deep in North Carolina territory that negated a scoring opportunity and started a 12 play scoring drive for the Tar Heels that eneded in a Field Goal.  UNC didn’t do anything special, they methodically moved the ball down the field before stalling at the 8-yard line and settled for a field goal.

To end the half, Miami and North Carolina traded possessions but the Canes blocked a North Carolina punt with 7 seconds to go in the half before time expired and the teams went into the locker room with North Carolina leading 17-13.

To start the 3rd quarter, Miami’s Matt Goudis missed a 43-yard FG, and North Carolina netted a field goal in the opening two possessions to make the game 20-13 Tar Heel lead.  We headed into the 4th quarter during a 12-play Field Goal drive for North Carolina that started with a Stephen Morris INT on a screen pass  in the redzone with 3:24 to go in the 3rd quarter.  At the end of the drive, North Carolina held a promising 23-13 lead with 14:17 to play.

Miami rallied rushing Dallas Crawford almost exclusively, but with some help from Clive Walford (35-yard reception from Morris) to bring the Hurricanes to just a 3-point deficit.  Miami forced a 3 AND OUT, but Morris quickly returned possession back over to the Tar Heels with an INT with scoring position.  Bryn Renner then lost the game by over-throwing his WR on a forced throw and allowing Tracy Howard to make a play for the INT.  The Canes were able to get the ball and punt it out of scoring territory.

The game was won after a UNC punt started Miami at the 10-yard line and the Canes took over with 4;11 left and went on a 13-play 90-yard scoring drive that featured Dallas Crawford.  There isn’t a standout play but Miami did not panic in the face of a ticking clock and 2 timeouts.  The Canes rushed Dallas Crawford and Eduardo Clements on the series’ first 5 plays and found all kinds room to run.  Of the 13 plays of the game-winning drive 10 were rushes, and Stephen Morris was 3-3 for 34 yards (two 1st downs).  Miami went on to win 27-23 in comeback fashion.

What Do We Take Away?

Miami dealt with a lot of adversity in this game.  They were down, they were on the road, it was a blackout, it was Thursday night.  The Canes lost Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsett and they still found a way to win the game.

The Hurricanes rolled up 556 yards of offense and allowed UNC 500.  Stephen Morris’ 4 INTs was a season high and nearly cost the Hurricanes their first game of the 2013 season.

I think the thing to take away from this game is that Miami’s team on offense, defense, and special teams finds a way to make life difficult.  This is a game Miami should have lost, but when it came down to ‘crunch time’ players made plays.  Dallas Crawford is easily the MVP in this game filling in for Duke Johnson with 33 carries, 137 yards and 2 TDs.

Miami’s made plays, but North Carolina’s offense was not as productive as Louisville’s in 2013, as the Cards produced 21 more yards per game than the Heels…..if the Cards gain 500 yards of offense against Miami I would feel very good about Louisville’s chances.  North Carolina finished 70th in the country in Total Defense while the Cards finished 2nd with a 150 yards per game gap.

Miami vs. Wake Forest

That big sigh of relief?  That was Miami hearing from the NCAA the week of their game with Wake Forest, that the Hurricanes would not face any further sanctions from the scandal that has clouded the program for the past 3 seasons.  Miami came in 6-0 and ranked #7 in the nation, and were hosting the 4-3 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (who had lost to Boston College, UL-Monroe, and Clemson prior to the UM contest).  In fact, Wake wasn’t able to build on its 4 wins and finished 2013 with a 4-8 record.

To start the game, Wake Forest demolished Miami’s Defense converting FOUR 3rd Downs on a 16-play, 8:34 minute drive to open the ballgame and took a 7-0 lead.  Miami quickly went 3 AND OUT and Wake missed a FG at the end of a 9-play drive and missed an opportunity to take a 10-0 lead.

The Canes had just 1 possession in the 1st quarter and decided to make their 1st possession in the 2nd quarter count and played possession football with 7 of the first 8 plays coming in as rushes.  When the Canes decided to go with Stephen Morris through the air on 3 consecutive plays Wake finally was able to stop Miami and the Canes had to settle for a FG, 7-3 Wake.

Wake’s Tanner Price hit Tyree Harris for a 56-yard reception to get into scoring position and a gutsy 4th & 1 from the 9-yard line turned into a TD for the Demon Deacons pushing the lead to 14-3.  To end the half, Wake & Miami traded possessions before Stephen Morris was able to connect two deep passes in a row (20 yards to Clive Walford) that scored a Herb Waters 35-yard TD with a 1:10 to go left in the 1st half.

Miami missed a FG to open the 3rd quarter after a 10-play 70-yard opening drive to the 2nd half.  The Canes got a 3 AND OUT and quickly got the ball back and failed to score AGAIN, this time failing to convert a 4th & 1 from the 9-yard line instead of going for a FG.  Miami’s defense, came up huge in time after time but for several possessions neither team capitalized until Miami with 5:36 remaining in the 4th quarter.  The Canes rode a Duke Johnson wave into the endzone on an 8-play 51-yard TD Drive that saw Duke carry the ball on 6 of Miami’s 8 plays (no Morris pass attempts).  17-14 Miami.

Wake Forest, came right back and scored in just 94 seconds to reclaim the lead (21-17 Wake).  WF got a huge 4th & 5 conversion on a pass over the middle to extend the drive, and then Tanner Price hit his RB on a wheel route who broke a tackle and went all the way into the endzone for a 44-yard TD.

Miami though, had plenty of time (4:02) to win the game.  3 straight rushes to Duke Johnson for 25 yards, a pass interference penalty on Wake Froest.  Dallas Crawford and Duke Johnson on the ground for another 1st down. Then all Duke Johnson into the endzone for Miami with 0:53 remaining to take a 24-21 lead.  Miami sealed the game on an INT off the hands of a Wake receiver.  What an ending.

What Do We Take Away?

To start the game, Miami couldn’t get off the field and it wasn’t until the Canes decided to control the ball themselves did they give their defense enough time to regroup.  Wake Forest was not a good football team, but UM was likely looking ahead to playing Florida State the next week.

We did, however, learn some trends….. at this point in the season for Miami when things got tight, Miami went to the ground and bullied their way into the endzone with the running game.  Mostly with Duke Johnson.  At clutch time it appears that Al Golden trusts his running game more than the aerial attack with Stephen Morris at this point in the season.

Miami did clean up the turnover issues. but were once again beaten in time of possession.  The Canes racked up 391 yards of offense, but allowed 361 to Wake including 8 of 16 on 3rd down (2 of 2 on 4th Down).  This was an alarming win for Miami but with a big game the following week (FSU) distractions and lack of focus on the current opponent things like this can happen.  Miami won the game and in the end that is all that matters.

Miami @ Florida State

This game did not go as well as Miami would have hoped.  The Seminoles took down the Canes 41-14 and both teams came into the game 7-0 and ranked in the Top 10.  Things got started right out of the gate when the Noles took the kickoff and went on a 13-play, 72-yard drive for a TD in game’s opening possession.  7-0 FSU.

Miami did have a promising start as well.  Duke Johnson had all kinds of room to run, but Miami had to settle for a FG on the opening possession and missed.  The Canes got back on track 3 plays later when Deon Bush (ACC Honorable Mention) intercepted Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.  After 4 straight rushes to Duke Johnson, Stephen Morris threw an absolute rope to Allen Hurns for a 33-yard TD to knot the game at 7-7.

Miami then gave up a great deal on the ground in the next possession that FSU dominated for 7:01, 11 plays, and 79 yards for a TD, but all that running allowed Jameis Winston to hit a 35-yard gainer through the air, to make the game 14-7 in favor for Florida State.  The game was broken open after a false start penalty got Miami off schedule and the Canes were forced to punt.  Once the Noles got the ball again, a 48-yard screen pass to Devonta Freeman made the score 21-7.

Just before halftime the Canes made things interesting when Rayshawn Jenkins intercepted Jameis Winston with 2:05 remaining before halftime.  This time, it was Stephen Morris would came up clutch hitting Clive Walford for 20 yards, rushing for 9 yards, and then finishing the drive off with a 14-yard nasty throw to Allen Hurns just before halftime. 21-14 FSU.

In the 3rd quarter FSU sacked Stephen Morris to stall the Canes’ opening drive.  FSU took the ball and ran it 5 of the first 6 plays before opening things up and using two Winston passes to gain 48 yards into the redzone before scoring on the ground to take a 28-14 lead.   It took just one play for the Seminoles to intercept a badly underthrown deep ball from Stephen Morris and regain possession.  From there it was the Jameis Winston show and the drive was capped off with a 12-yard rush from Devonta Freeman to take a 35-14 lead in the 3rd quarter.

The worst thing that happened in this game was Duke Johnson’s broken ankle late in the 3rd quarter.  Johnson’s injury was severe and required surgery that ended his season.  Johnson has two years of eligibility left and was a True Sophomore during 2013.  His injury is a heavy blow to Miami as Duke is one of the mos dynamic players in college football.  Despite missing Miami’s final 4 conference games the coaches of the ACC still put Duke on the ACC 2nd’s Team.

In the 4th quarter, Miami really didn’t show much.  Stephen Morris threw an INT, Florida State hit a pair of field goals and the final score was 41-14.

What Can We Take Away?

It wasn’t pretty.  Stephen Morris’ two INTs were costly. Miami possessed the ball just 21:27 of the 60 minutes, the Canes were just 4 of 12 on 3rd Down and gained just 275 yards of total offense.  Florida State gained 517.  OUCH.

But the biggest issue in this game was the loss of Duke Johnson.  The Canes were already playing without Phillip Dorsett, and Duke Johnson was THE play maker on the Miami team.  When Miami need a long drive they went to Duke.  When they needed that big play or had to have a quality possession….they went to Duke.  So his loss really is a big deal.

But I really feel like Miami panicked in this game and forced throws, particularly Stephen Morris.  Additionally, FSU & Louisville are very similar statistically on defense and between Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston are the Top 2 QBs in college football.   It’s easy to draw parallels and to make assumptions, but on paper the two schools are similar (Florida State’s offense was about 70 yards per game better than Louisville in 2013).  In the end Miami just couldn’t stop Florida State, even despite forcing two turnovers the Seminoles still managed to tally 41 points and win by 27.


Miami vs. Virginia Tech

The Hurricanes were a team looking for an identity headed into Virginia Tech week.  The Canes had just lost 41-14 to the Florida State Seminoles and had just lost the ‘face of the program’ Duke Johnson for the season after losing Phillip Dorsett a few weeks earlier.  The Hurricanes dropped to 11th and after the VT game there were sure to drop further.

Virginia Tech came into the Miami game 6-3 with losses to Alabama, Duke, and Boston College.  The Hokies had lost two in a row and it appeared that this game would be one that the Canes could get healthy on.  But instead, the Canes dropped the contest 42-24 in their home stadium. The hangover was real in a rainy Sun Life Stadium.

Believe it or not, Miami actually stopped VT on its opening drive and Miami hit freshman sensation Stacy Coley for an 81-yard screen pass TD on the 2nd snap from scrimmage to take an early 7-0 lead.  Miami actually forced a 3 AND OUT but Stacy Coley fumbled after a 23-yard return and the Hokies retained possession. VT’s Logan Thomas lead the drive to tie the game 7-7.

Miami’s Artie Burns created the 2nd special teams mistake of the afternoon for the Canes when he fumbled a long return over to the Hokies which led to another Logan Thomas led TD drive and a 14-7 Hokie lead.  Both of Virginia Tech’s Touchdowns at this point should have been Miami possessions but special teams gaffes took the possession away.

Catastrophe hit when a low snap caused Miami Punt Pat O’Donnell to go down to get the ball when his knee hit and gave the ball over to the Hokies at the 17-yard line.  VT quickly scored on two rushes from Trey Edmunds for a 21-7 lead.  That’s 21 points off turnovers if you are counting at home.  Miami finally got it together and got the game back to a one possession contest with a huge pass play from Morris to Allen Hurns and then Dallas Crawford finished it off to get to 21-14.  But Logan Thomas struck right back with a scoring drive of his own extending the lead to 28-14 on the first feature length drive of the game for the Hokies.  The TD was inexplicable tackling by Miami who let Joshua Stanford free despite having him wrapped up by at least 3 Miami defenders. 28-14 Hokies.

The game was relatively quiet until the Canes got a 35-yard rush from Dallas Crawford that set-up a 49-yard Field Goal for Matt Goudis to bring the Canes to a 28-17 deficit. But the Hokies weren’t going to be silent much longer and Logan Thomas hit Willie Bryn on a wide open crossing pattern for a 48-yard TD reception (was actually fumbled into endzone and recovered by VT) to take a 35-17 lead.

Miami was not ready to go away and Stephen Morris hit a HUGE play to Allen Hurns over the reaching fingers of a VT defender for an 84-yard TD to draw within 35-24.  Miami, however, couldn’t stop the Hokies on the ensuing possession when Logan Thomas & Trey Edmunds just dominated the Hurricanes on a 10-play, 75 yard drive to push the lead to 42-24.  Miami would go 3 AND OUT, the Hokies put together another LOOOONNGGG Drive which ended on a 4th and 1 at the 3 (no score) and took 9 minutes.  Miami’s final drive ended when the clock expired and the Canes had lost their second in a row.

What Can We Take Away?

In this game, Miami couldn’t stop Virginia Tech.  They couldn’t stop them when they needed to, they couldn’t stop them when they had to, they couldn’t get off the field.  Miami’s defense played 39:30 of 60 minutes.  Virginia Tech got everything they wanted.  This game was at home.  Va Tech had a decent year, but nothing to write home about.  Clearly Miami was affected by the loss of their top playmaker in Duke Johnson, but the trend of not being able to get off the field and costly turnovers continued in this game.

Miami @ Duke

Both teams came in 7-2.  For Miami it was a disappointment, for Duke it was the makings of a banner year.  The Blue Devils came into the game looking to make Miami win number 6 in a row, while the Hurricanes were hoping to avoid a 3-game losing streak.  Duke was able to win 48-30 because they absolutely DOMINATED Miami on the ground racking up 358 yards rushing and 543 yards of offense.

It all got started rather nicely for Miami after a 10-play 61 yard opening drive ended with a Matt Goudis Field goal for the Canes to take a 3-0 lead, followed by a Duke 3 AND OUT and a Stacy Coley Punt Return for a TD that pushed the lead to 10-0 in favor of the Hurricanes.  Heck of a start.  But the Blue Devils got going and mixed and matched the run and the pass on a 10-play, 75 yard TD drive to get some of it back and draw to 10-7.

Miami, however, looked dialed in and relied heavily on Stephen Morris through the air for a 10-play 76 yard TD drive of their own to push the lead back to 10 at 17-7.  In the 2nd quarter Stephen Morris would throw an INT off a receiver that went sky high and Duke would pound away on the ground before going over the top of the Hurricane Defense for a 22-yard TD pass. Miami would finish a red zone trip with a field to take a 20-14 advantage, but one thing was clear, Miami was relying much more on Stephen Morris in this game. Duke took the lead just before halftime 21-20 almost entirely due to the ground game.  Miami just could not hope stop the Blue Devils, and the same exact thing happened to open the 2nd half when Duke took a 28-20 lead.

Stephen Morris hit Herb Waters for a 50-yard TD on a screen to the left flat on the 3rd play of the 2nd half for the Canes.  Perfectly executed, great blocking on the outside. Duke & Miami traded Field Goals, and with the score at 31-30 the team that got a stop was likely going to win.  That team was Duke who took advantage again on the ground for 4 plays, 75 yards (all rushing) to take a 38-30 lead.  Miami could do nothing on offense, and Duke made them pay again to take a 45-30 lead and would tack on a field goal for good measure with 1:04 remaining.

What Can We Take Away?

At this point in the season, Miami was looking in the mirror asking, “Who Am I?”  The truth is that Miami played 3 quality football teams and lost.  Statistically the Canes were not dominated by Duke.  But the Canes Rush Defense was definitely taken advantage of.  Also Miami asked the most of Stephen Morris with a season-high 49 attempts.  Morris did only throw 1 INT.  Dallas Crawford only rushed 19 times as the featured back, and I really didn’t get the feeling that the Miami coaches really wanted to give Dallas much more than that taking away a huge advantage for Miami in the running game.

Miami vs. Virginia

If any team needed a bunny, it was Miami.  And the Hurricanes certainly got the cakewalk opponent it needed late in the conference schedule in Virginia.  The Cavailers finished the season 2-10 and had one of the worst QBs in college football.  Even then Miami really didn’t shine in this 45-26 win.

Things got started on the first play from scrimmage when Miami’s Tracy Howard got a PICK SIX from UVA’s David Watford (it was an easy pass in the flat……….).   UVA got on the board two possessions later after a BIG Punt return put UVA in position to score with a Field Goal, 7-3 Miami.   Stephen Morris then hit Stacy Coley with a BOMB 62-yard TD midway through the 1st quarter, but then Virginia somehow put together a drive and David Watford hit Kevin Parks for a 24-yard TD.  Miami got a FG, UVA and UM traded INTs, but Miami cashed in due to an 81-yard return by Ladarius Gunter to make the score 21-13.

To start the 2nd half, Miami got things going with a field goal  and then hit Allen Hurns for a 26-yard TD pass.   Virginia scored an inexplicable TD again, but then he threw a predicted INT to Kacy Rodgers…….in the end Miami won this one 45-26 after scoring a defensive TD in the 4th quarter.  I have no idea how in the world the Cavailiers managed to score 26 points.  This game honestly isn’t worth reviewing further.

What Can We Take Away?

I probably can’t stress enough how bad Virginia is at football. But somehow they scored 26 points.  That’s alarming.  Virginia only scored more than 26 ONCE all year.  Against Ball State in a 48-27 loss.  The Cavs also scored 26 against Maryland in a losing effort.

This is the type of game that after a team wins, it feels like a loss.  Miami gained just 304 yards of offense, but did created 4 turnovers and scored on several of those.  They allowed 483 yards of offense to Virginia…..Virginia.  Miami had the ball just 22:11 of 60 minutes……..I need to stop on this particular game.

Miami @ PITT

PITT finished its season 6-6 and will face Bowling Green in the Little Caesar’s Bowl. It’s not exactly a rousing finish, but Pittsburgh has been through the ringer. Miami came into this game with hopes to win its 9th game of the season. The Canes were able to in a final score of 41-31, but it really wasn’t that close as Miami coasted in from 31-10 midway through the 3rd quarter.

Things got started quickly when Pitt fumbled the opening kickoff (forced by kicker/punter Pat O’Donnell) and Stephen Morris hit Stacy Coley (wide open) for a TD. Miami then blocked a Pitt punt and Morris hit Coley again, this time on a screen to push the lead to 14-0.

As you might imagine from our previous recaps, Pitt got a lot of its production from the ground and it the first Panthers’ score for 45 yards on an Issac Bennett carry. Miami however would hit a field goal on an 18-play drive, force a punt, and then hit a 66-yard Morris to Allen Hurns that would set up a TD and a 24-7 lead to START the 2nd quarter!

Just before halftime, after a Panther field goal (on a really LONG possession) Miami went with an end around that freshman Stacy Coley took 73 yards for a TD for a 31-10 halftime lead.

I’m not really going to mess with the 2nd half of this game very much. Miami got 10 extra points and really took its foot off the gas. Pitt gained 288 yards of 501 yards during the 2nd half, but most of it was inconsequential.

What Can We Take Away

Stephen Morris might take some criticism, he isn’t an elite talent, but he has outstanding weapons around him and for the most part allows those weapons to perform. Pitt gained a lot of yards (213 in the 1st half), but Miami capitalized on turnovers and really set the tone early in this game. If we have learned anything about Miami it is that they want the big play, and are constantly in search of it.


Bowl Game Interviews: 

12/23 Post-Practice Quotes

Head Coach Charlie Strong

(On being back in Orlando)
“It’s game preparation so we were focusing on first and 10 and play action. We have been practicing for a week now. It’s all about the game and the approach to the game. We just have to be sharp and focus on our keys and responsibilities.”

(What do you notice about Miami)
If you look at them offensively, they are a good football team. They have a very strong offensive line. Their wide receivers can really run and the quarterback does a good job of managing the offense. Defensively, they don’t give up the big play, and they will make you earn everything you get.”

(On health heading into bowl)
“We are right where we need to be. We have some nicks and bruises, but no one that should be out for this game.”

(What a win would mean to program)
“We are playing a quality opponent. We are playing an opponent that now we are going into the ACC, will be on our schedule next season. It’s going to be a measuring stick at just how far we need to go and just how much better we need to get.”

(On the holiday preparation)
“They understand. We went to the Belk Bowl a few years ago around the same time. They understand what they have to do. Christmas is coming up and we will celebrate Christmas as a team, but then we will get back to work.

(On Stephen Morris)
“He is surrounded by some really good players. He just does a great job of just managing the offense. Their offensive line does a great job of blocking. They are big up front and the wide receivers do a good job of getting down the field. They have a lot of speed and they play at a high level.”

(On the loss of Duke Johnson)
“Duke is an outstanding player. Anytime you lose a player like Duke it is hard to replace, but they have enough running backs. They have done a good job recruiting so they have guys that are playing well.”

(On having extra juice for this game)
“They have to understand that they can’t get too high or too low for this game. We just have to stay even keel and prepare like we have prepared all season long.”

QB Teddy Bridgewater

(On Miami’s defense)
“Every game we have the mindset that we will take what the defense gives us. That is how we are going to approach this game. We have studied them, but we aren’t going to just go out there fishing. We are going to have a good game plan. We are going to operate and try to nickel and dime them. There are plenty of opportunities out there for us and we will see how we can take advantage of those opportunities.”

(On what Miami’s defense does well)
“They are fast and very physical. They have a ton of playmakers on defense. They are well-assigned and extremely well-coached.”

(On playing Miami giving his history with them)
“No, not at all. I’m treating this game like any other game. No game is bigger than the next game. I go into every game with the same mindset of executing our offense, managing the offense, and taking what the defense gives us.”

(Reaction to playing Miami)
“It was a huge wow factor once I heard we were playing the University of Miami because I am from Miami. I grew up watching the Hurricanes, for Florida State, Florida, all the Florida schools. It was very shocking. We do have the mindset that this is a big game because they are on our schedule next season. We are just going to treat it like any other game.”

(On his decision about turning pro or coming back to school)
“I do know that after this game I have a big decision to make. There are things that are going to factor into that decision such as my personal goals and team goals. After this game I will evaluate everything and go from there.”

(On pros to going back to school)
“Just finishing something that I started and continue to be out there with guys I grew up with like Michaelee Harris, Eli Rogers and Jermaine Reve. The relationship I have with those guys is a special bond.”

(On pros to coming out for the NFL Draft)
“Just fulfilling a dream that I’ve had since I’ve been a child. I can make an impact on the city and the area that I from, and be a living testament to those who are trying to chase their dreams and their goals. If I can do it, then they can do it also.”

(Do you think you are ready for the NFL)
“Of course I do. I feel that I’m ready, but I also feel that I’m not. It can go either way. You always have areas that you can improve. Like I said, after this game I will just evaluate everything.”

(What areas can you get better)
Just the little things. For one, I feel I can get bigger. I’m not as heavy as I was last year, but I can attribute to my mouth surgery. I feel that I can easily gain weight back, as I am in the process of gaining it back. I’m down about 10 pounds. It didn’t feel different, but at the same time it did from a durability standpoint, being able to withstand a long season. There wasn’t a negative effect, but if I was 10 pounds heavier that I could have more zip on my throws.”

(Did he feel like he improved from last year)

I feel like I improved a lot from last year in my touchdowns, interception ratio and my completion percentage. I’ve become a better leader. I’ve demanded guys respect on the field, off the field and in the locker room. It was just a great year.”

(On negativity)
“It bothered me a little. But that’s college football. We can only control what we can. I just let my play continue to speak for itself and I continue to add to my resume each week.”

S Calvin Pryor

(On Stacy Coley)
“We have to key on Stacy Coley. He has speed. We have to slow him down and make him do something he doesn’t normally do.”

(Have ever faced wide receivers like this)
“No, we haven’t. To be honest, this is probably the best offense we have faced since I’ve been at the University of Louisville. They have big play-makers in the quarterback and running back position, and even the tight end gets the ball and can make things happen with it. We just have to be sound and read our keys and make plays on the ball.”

(On the challenge of playing this offense)
“This is something I look forward too. I just want the best. I’m a competitor and when you compete it brings out the best in you. When I line up against those guys, I fully be fully confident when we line up Saturday night, and we will see what happens.”

(On Teddy Bridgewater)
“Everyone knows Teddy (Bridgewater). The way he studies film, his playmaking ability and the way he leads by example, that’s what makes him special. He don’t talk too much, he just goes out and operates.”

(On what a win will do against Miami)
“This would be a great win, coming off the Sugar Bowl win last year, and then having a chance to play Miami. If we can win, it would be a stepping stone for coach Strong and the program as we head into the ACC.”


On Louisville…

“Obviously they’ve learned how to win. They’ve learned to win over the last two years at a high level, an elite level. They have a quarterback that really can make it happen for them. They’re very active on defense…Very opportunistic, create a lot of pressure. On offense, they have playmakers, big offensive line. It’ll be a great challenge for us.”

On what RAB means for program and university…

“It means we can move forward now. All these things that we’re learning…that’s all part of it. That’s all part of your team experience, your team learning and your team growing. We haven’t had that opportunity to do so. It feels great. Obviously being on the road and hearing nothing but the positives of the University of Miami, finally after 28-29 months. It just feels different. We’re excited to move the program forward.”

On his first bowl game at Temple vs. Miami…

“(The situation is) very similar. There (at Temple), we knew what we were walking in to. No one could even fathom a bowl game. Here, we thought we’d be in a bowl game every year. We thought we’d be able to grow the team…Now I feel like we can move forward and leave everything (else) behind.”


On Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater…

“He does a great job of making decisions, of getting the football where it needs to go. He does a good job of being patient and he throws extremely well on the run. He’s only thrown four interceptions so it’s obvious it tells you that he’s making great decisions and is comfortable with their scheme.”

On other concerns of Louisville offense…

“They’re really balanced – they have multiple players at each position. They have multiple backs that are good players, same thing at tight end and wide receiver. They have a lot of guys with double-digit catches – so anytime we face an offense that’s that balanced it wouldn’t be fair to give credit to one or two guys.”

On the pass rush…

“We have to get pressure. We’ve improved this year. There were certain games we had more pressure than others. We have to continue to improve…and that starts with putting pressure on the quarterback.”



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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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